Your new MacBook Air boasts a range of impressive features. However, Apple has adopted a minimalistic approach when it comes to ports. Be it the latest 13-inch MacBook Air (M2, 2022), 15-inch MacBook Air (M2, 2023), or an older model, you are limited to just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. Fortunately, numerous laptop docks available in the market can effectively increase the number of ports at your disposal.
A laptop dock is a helpful device that connects your laptop with external displays, storage devices, and other peripherals. Doing so transforms your laptop into a desktop computer, giving you the advantage of working with multiple displays, accessing more storage, and utilizing a more comprehensive range of peripherals.
If you use your laptop in a specific location, like a home or office, a laptop dock can significantly increase your productivity. It provides a more desktop-like experience, allowing you to connect multiple displays, use various peripherals, and even charge your laptop from a single central location.
Here are some of the benefits of using a laptop dock:
More productivity: A laptop dock is an excellent tool to enhance productivity. It lets you connect multiple displays, use various peripherals, and charge your laptop from one central location.
Desktop-like experience: With the help of a laptop dock, you can enhance your computing experience and enjoy a desktop-like setup. It enables you to connect several displays and simultaneously use a range of peripherals.
Portability: Some laptop docks, but not all, are designed to be portable, allowing for easy transportation while traveling.: Some laptop docks, but not all, are designed to be portable, allowing for easy transport while traveling.
Before purchasing a laptop dock, it's important to consider several factors, starting with your budget. These accessories are available at a range of prices, from under $50 to as much as $500, depending on the number of ports and overall features.
Aside from the price, ensuring that the dock you choose has the required ports is crucial. Your MacBook Air has two ports that can support charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s), USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s), and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s). To accommodate additional ports like VGA, HDMI, DVI, and Thunderbolt 2 output, you can opt for a laptop dock from the recommended options below.
When considering a laptop dock, it's important to consider portability. Choosing a lightweight option is recommended if you plan on carrying it frequently.
Great laptop docks for MacBook Air
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+ Offers SD 4.0 card reader
The Kensington Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station offers four Thunderbolt 4 ports, four USB-A ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one audio combo jack, and one UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader, Plus, it supports up to dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
This docking station is compatible with Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops and backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C devices, making it a versatile option. It also supports Power Delivery up to 90W, so you can charge your laptop and other devices through the dock.
Amazon review rating: 4.1/5
Lots of ports
+ 10 ports!
+ Passthrough charging
- Clunky design
This laptop dock includes four Thunderbolt 4 ports, four USB-A ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one SD 4.0 card reader, and a 2.5Gb Ethernet port, this docking station has got you covered. It even supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz, making it perfect for work or play.
The TBT200 is compatible with Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops and can also work with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C devices. Plus, it supports Power Delivery up to 96W, so you can charge your laptop and other devices through the dock. Get all your devices connected with ease!
Amazon review rating: 3.9/5
It's nearly perfect
+ 98W of charging power
+ Tons of ports
The well-reviewed CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 (TS4) comes with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, five USB-A ports, three USB-C ports, a 2.5Gb Ethernet port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack; the TS4 has everything you need to stay connected and productive.
Not only that, but the TS4 also supports up to dual 8K displays at 60Hz or a single 10K display at 60Hz. And with compatibility for Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops and backward compatibility with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C devices, this dock is truly versatile. Plus, it supports Power Delivery up to 98W, so you can charge your laptop and other devices through the dock.
Amazon review rating: 4.1/5
+ Beautifully designed
+ Provides 40Gbps bandwidth for connecting external displays
- Somewhat pricey
The Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Slim docking station is an ideal solution for those who need to connect their laptops to different external devices. It boasts three Thunderbolt 4 downstream ports, a USB-A port, and an SD card reader, all in a compact and portable design. It can deliver high-quality visuals with the capacity to support dual 4K displays at 60Hz or an 8K display at 30Hz.
Whether you have a Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptop or a Thunderbolt 3, USB4, or USB-C device, this docking station is compatible with all of them. Additionally, it supports Power Delivery up to 60W, allowing you to charge your laptop and other devices through the dock.
Amazon review rating: 4.4/5
+High speed ports
+100W PD Charging
- Only 1 Thunderbolt 4 Port
The Anker 778 laptop dock is one of the best performers this year, and it's not hard to see why. With impressive features and a few limitations, this 12-in-1 Thunderbolt dock is an excellent choice for anyone looking for high-speed USB-A ports and multiple Display outputs. The dock includes two DisplayPorts and one HDMI, making it easy to connect various devices and displays.
While the Anker 778 has much to offer, it's worth noting that it lacks card readers, which may be a dealbreaker for some users. Additionally, only one Thunderbolt 4 port is available, so if you need more than one, you may want to consider a different dock. Overall, the Anker 778 is a solid choice for anyone needing a reliable and versatile laptop dock.
Amazon review rating: 3.4/5
Best hybrid laptop docking station
+ Comes with a stand
+ Dual power options
- For MacOS, can only extend one extra display three times
The Baseus 17-in-1 USB C Docking Station has three HDMI ports, two USB-C ports, three USB-A ports, an SD card reader, an audio jack, and an Ethernet port. Plus, it supports Power Delivery up to 100W, so you can charge your laptop and other devices directly through the dock.
Whether you have a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C laptop, the Baseus 17-in-1 USB-C Docking Station is compatible. It also supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz, or a single 8K display at 30Hz. Get ready to experience an efficient and seamless work setup with this docking station.
Amazon review rating: 4.3/5
+ Small footprint
- Only 60W charging
The OWC Thunderbolt Hub is a 5-port hub with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one USB-A port, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. With this versatile hub, you can enjoy dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
Not only is the OWC Thunderbolt Hub compatible with Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops, but it's also backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C devices. Additionally, it supports Power Delivery up to 60W, which is good, but provides much less power than many others on the list.
+ Amazing price
+ Small footprint
- Not as many ports as other solutions
Looking for a versatile hub that can connect multiple devices to your laptop? Look no further than the Anker 341 USB-C Hub! This 7-in-1 hub features 2 USB-C and 2 USB-A ports, an HDMI port, a microSD card slot, and an SD card slot. Plus, with Power Delivery up to 85W, you can even charge your laptop and other devices through the hub.
Compatible with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C laptops, the Anker 341 USB-C Hub also supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
Amazon review rating: 4.6/5
Great port selection
+ Reliable functionality
+ Slim minimal design
- Only one Thunderbolt Port
The Kensington Thunderbolt 4 Dual 4K Docking Station is a high-quality device that offers a wide range of connectivity options. It includes two HDMI ports, one Thunderbolt 4 port, one Thunderbolt 4 host port, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen2 10Gbps ports, two USB-A 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, audio combo jack, and a UHS-II 4.0 SD/Micro SD card reader. With this docking station, you can easily connect all your devices and peripherals to your computer.
The best part? The Kensington Thunderbolt 4 Dual 4K Docking Station is compatible with Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops and backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C devices. It also supports Power Delivery up to 96W, so you can charge your laptop and other devices through the dock.
Supports PCIe cards
+ 2.5Gb Ethernet
+ Dedicated HDMI 2.1 port
With the Sonnet Echo 20, you can expand your laptop's capabilities by adding up to two PCIe cards. This Thunderbolt 4 and PCIe expansion chassis offers two full-height, full-length PCIe slots that support PCIe 3.0 x16, x8, and x4 cards. Additionally, the Echo 20 comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, four USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. You can rely on it to support dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
+ 135W power supply included
+ Great design
- No downstream Thunderbolt ports
This device features a variety of ports, including three USB Type-A 10Gbps, two USB Type-A 5Gbps, a USB 2.0 Type-A (with 7.5W charging capability), one USB Type-C (with 10Gbps and 7.5W), an RJ45 Ethernet (with 2.5Gbps), two HDMI 2.0, two DisplayPort 1.2, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, an SD card slot (with UHS-II), a microSD card slot, and a Thunderbolt 4 (for host connectivity).
Amazon review rating: 4.1/5
+ So many ports
+ Excellent price
- Perhaps too many ports for some
With the UtechSmart 12-in-1 docking station, you can connect your laptop to various external devices. This versatile device boasts three HDMI ports, two USB-C ports, three USB-A ports, an SD card reader, and an audio combo jack. It also supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
Amazon review rating: 4.0/5
If you're in the market for a laptop dock for your MacBook Air, plenty of options are available to suit varying preferences and budgets. It's important to select a dock that provides the necessary ports you require while avoiding ones with excessive ports you won't use.
One final piece of advice: laptop docks go on sale often, so try and avoid buying one at its regular price.
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Bryan M. Wolfe is a staff writer at TechRadar, iMore, and wherever Future can use him. Though his passion is Apple-based products, he doesn't have a problem using Windows and Android. Bryan's a single father of a 15-year-old daughter and a puppy, Isabelle. Thanks for reading!